Putin Spokesman: Clinton Officials Met Russian Ambassador

Kremlin official says Kislyak held bipartisan appointments during campaign

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 13 Mar 2017 at 8:51 AM

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin downplayed hysteria in the American press over possible Trump administration connections to his nation’s government, noting during an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that aired Sunday that people associated with Hillary Clinton also met with the Russian ambassador.

“Well, if you look at some people connected with Hillary Clinton during her campaign, you would probably see that [Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak] had lots of meetings of that kind,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

According to Peskov, none of those meetings with Kislyak — whether they were held with Clinton’s associates or Trump’s — had anything to do with the 2016 presidential election.

“There were no meetings about elections — electoral process … in no way should it be presented as interference in electoral process,” Peskov said.

Democrats and the media went wild with Russian connection accusations after it came to light the president’s former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael T. Flynn had spoken with Kislyak during the transition.

At the time, Flynn told Vice President Mike Pence that he did not discuss former President Obama’s sanctions against Russia with Kislyak. Flynn was forced to resign when leaks emerged indicating that he had misrepresented the nature of his conversation with Kislyak to Pence.

When details emerged showing that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had spoken to and met with Kislyak while serving in the Senate during Trump’s campaign, outraged liberals claimed the meeting could have involved campaign coordination.

Sessions stated plainly the conversations had nothing to do with his role as a surrogate for Trump’s campaign.

Peskov insisted that while Putin did prefer Trump over Clinton, he did not support one candidacy over another.

“You would probably recall that President Putin, during [the] election campaign, had never answered directly a question about his candidate of his support. He kept saying that we will respect a choice of American people,” Peskov told Zakaria.

"The candidate Hillary Clinton was quite negative about our country in her attitude and in her program, declaring Russia being nearly the main evil in the world and the main threat for the United States," Peskov added."Whom would you like better? The one who says that Russia is evil or the one who says that, 'Yes, we disagree, but let's talk to understand and to try to find some points of agreement'?"

When Zakaria asked Peskov point-blank if there had been "any collaboration or serious communication back and forth with Donald Trump's campaign during the election campaign last year," Peskov replied, "The answer is very simple, no."

"The fact that Russia is being demonized in that sense comes very strange to us. And we are really sorry about that," Peskov said, adding that the U.S. is "a huge country, a country No. 1, the most powerful country in the world, with a very, very stable political tradition and you say that a country can easily intervene and easily influence your electoral process. This is simply impossible."
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